Da Legal Stuff...

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Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Benedict Arnold is Alive and Well in Newfoundland and Labrador

Boy, oh boy. It’s too bad the days of dragging a traitor into the streets and ending their actions quickly and brutally have gone by the wayside. It’s too bad as well that Newfoundland and Labrador seems to breed these traitors like so much vermin.

They crawl out from under rock after rock as soon as someone in Ottawa waves a carrot under their noses. Maybe that’s how this place got its nickname. Only a rock could hide so many vile and disgusting specimens.

So who’s the latest traitor to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? Well, unlike the ones we can all name from memory from years gone by, this time the traitor is nameless, at least for now.

CBC is reporting two distinct possibilities but who really knows, except the whoremaster himself, Loyola Hearn.

According to Hearn:

"I have eyes, ears near Williams"

The CBC article goes on to say:

Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn has thrown more fuel into an ongoing feud with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, with a claim that he has eyes and ears inside Williams's own government.

"There are times I'm sure I know as much as what's going on in cabinet and caucus or on the eighth floor as the premier does," said Hearn, referring to Williams's office in Confederation Building in St. John's.

"I always do. That's why we can always be one step ahead of him," Hearn said in a year-end interview with CBC News. "I have friends throughout cabinet and caucus."

Hearn, the MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, has been locked in a verbal battle with Williams for more than two years, and has suffered more than a few barbs from Williams over the federal government's handling of equalization and other issues.

Nonetheless, Hearn said he enjoys strong personal relationships with key provincial Progressive Conservatives, and says some not only support the federal Conservatives, but are considering a jump to the federal party for elected office.

"They do what they have to do and I don't blame them," said Hearn. "But given the choice, they are still there to help, support and run for us perhaps…

The opening of at least one traditional Tory seat has sparked speculation about new candidates, including former provincial cabinet ministers Jack Byrne and Tom Osborne, both of whom were dropped from cabinet in October's shuffle.Neither has ruled out a federal candidacy, and Hearn said both are names he would like to see on a ballot.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Prosperous Future - Consequences to Come

N.L. braces for prosperous future - and consequences that come with it


The future of Canada's youngest province has never shone brighter. But the prosperity that awaits Newfoundland and Labrador threatens to bring a new set of problems it has never experienced before.

For generations, Newfoundland has struggled with mounting multibillion-dollar debt, staggering unemployment and make-work projects that failed to turn the province's economy around.
National columnists labelled Newfoundlanders "professional welfare cases" - words that still sting many residents here.

But the province's outlook has changed dramatically. Back-to-back record surpluses, growing tourism and a boom in mineral development and the offshore oil sector have combined to make Newfoundland the Celtic Tiger of Canada.

For the first time in its history, 60 years after it joined the country, the province is poised to become a have-province by March 2009 - a great source of pride for Premier Danny Williams.
"We hope to make a significant contribution to this country," Williams said in an interview, echoing the unfulfilled dream of his predecessors.

"We want to pay our way, we want to earn our own keep."

And the boom is expected to last for some time. Primarily powered by high oil prices and expansions in the offshore industry, economists are forecasting Newfoundland to remain a contributor to the federal equalization program for at least 15 to 20 years.

Citing approved and pending developments such as Hebron, the White Rose extension, Hibernia South and the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, Prof. Wade Locke says Newfoundland is entering a period of prolonged, unprecedented growth.

"If the price of oil falls below US$40, then we've got some issues on our hands here, but nobody's expecting that at this point in time," said Locke, an economics professor at Memorial University.

"All the fundamentals are lining up to provide a sustained increase in economic activity and standard of living and well-being here that up till now has not been realized."

Already, the benefits and drawbacks generated by the province's scorching economic growth of nearly eight per cent this year are beginning to show.

Boutique hotels and upscale restaurants are springing up in St. John's. Help wanted signs hang in the windows of downtown shops. Bidding wars have erupted for houses that would've languished on the market a decade ago.

Home sales in eastern Newfoundland jumped 68 per cent from October to November, the largest single market sales increase that month, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported last week.

The other end of the province is also going through growing pains. Labrador City, fuelled by a soaring demand from China for its rich deposits of iron ore, is experiencing a labour shortage coupled with a housing crunch.

Small businesses have struggled to keep workers, with some having been forced to shut down.
"If you want a real world example of what might happen, have a look at what's happening in Labrador City right now," Locke warned.

Earlier this month, the province projected a historic surplus of $881.8 million, money it will use to pay down some of its whopping $10.8 billion debt and fund an ambitious infrastructure program.

"You'll see new hospitals, you'll see new schools, you'll see vastly improved roads which had deteriorated dramatically," Williams said.

"You're going to see a much more modern Newfoundland and Labrador."

But rising revenues have spawned rising expectations. Despite the new-found flow of riches, the rural-urban gap that divides Newfoundland is expected to grow unless the provincial government devises a plan to share the wealth and stir economic development.

"Anything we do, we want to see that it generates employment," said Steve Carey, mayor of Daniel's Harbour on Newfoundland's west coast.

"If it doesn't generate employment and all of this is just make-work, they can stick it up their ass because it's no good."

Like other small towns, Daniel's Harbour has seen its young leave in droves. Since 2001, its population has dwindled to 288 from 350 - a 17.7 per cent decline, according to Statistics Canada.

"It's just about all of the younger ones, the ones who would be having babies and building homes," Carey said.

"In 10 more years, most of the rural towns in Newfoundland, a good majority, won't exist."
The sudden spurt of affluence is also stoking fears of an anticipated spike in crime.

"Crime does follow prosperity," said Joe Browne, chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Officers with the force have sought the advice of other jurisdictions in Canada that have enjoyed similarly rapid economic growth on how to stem a rise in drug activity.

Investigators have already detected a steady increase in the sale of harder narcotics, such as cocaine, on the streets of St. John's.

"There seems to be more of it available," Browne said, singling out the drug trade as the police force's biggest challenge for the future.

Still, when compared with other regions of the country, the province remains a safe place to live, Browne said.

"We're still a friendly place and I hope that never changes, and we'll do everything on our part to ensure that it doesn't," he said.

"What's happening on the positive side of the province overshadows by a mile our concerns about the increase in crime activity."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Danny Williams, Newsmaker of the Year

Not to blow Danny Williams' horn, God knows he doesn't need my help, but it's interesting how quickly times change in politics. Just a few short months ago the newspapers "upalong" were calling for Danny to be tarred and feathered. He was called everything from a little Hitler to Danny Chavez. Oh, how times have changed. I present a couple of examples simply as a reminder that nothing ever stays the same and we should never forget that.

As the year draws to a close at least two of the naysayers have done a complete 180 on the Premier and are suddenly his biggest fans. Case in point is a recent article in the Globe and Mail that lists this years "Hits" and "Misses". Williams of course, now that he's proven the pundits wrong, has moved from a miss to a big hit.

Globe and Mail - December 21, 2007

Hit: Danny Williams

In April, 2006, Danny Williams, the cable TV multimillionaire-turned-populist Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, had the gall to say no to Exxon Mobil Corp. over the proposed multibillion-dollar development of the offshore Hebron oil field.

With oil then at $70 (U.S.) a barrel, Mr. Williams wanted a much better deal for his poor province than the ones previous administrations had managed to wrench from Big Oil. He wanted equity, he wanted super-royalties at high oil prices. Exxon, with its hard-rock fighting fists, took the tack it takes when it's unhappy, loudly stomping away from the bargaining table, never to return (in theory).

As potential piles of new dollars vanished, Danny Boy was ridiculed by the capitalist press, derisively dubbed “Danny Chavez,” as though there was any real similarity between Mr. Williams, a hard-bargaining capitalist, and Hugo Chavez, the Bolivar socialist in Venezuela.
How dare Mr. Williams, the armchair quarterbacks chimed, scrap with Exxon? A pipsqueak premier simply doesn't get the economics of international oil, and taking on the CEO of the biggest public company on Earth was just dumb. Newfoundland, the consensus suggested, would pay the price for years.

Well, well, a year later, look who comes slinking back (with oil nearing $100 a barrel). Exxon, after seeing its assets basically seized by the state in Venezuela, figured that the Rock ain't such a bad place to play, and generally agreed to all the terms that Mr. Williams demanded in 2006.
Now, instead of the predicted poverty, there's the “Danny Williams effect” as the local economy surges. “Oh Danny Boy,” Newfoundlanders sang as they bestowed a massive fresh majority on the man in the fall, “we love you so.”

Another very outspoken and misguided commentator, Jim Meek, a man I personally brought to task over his comments about the province (more so than Williams himself), now clearly sees how idiotic his earlier comments were. It looks good on him.

Danny Williams, newsmaker of the year
Thu. Dec 27 - 7:14 AM
Halifax Chronicle Herald

SORRY, but Danny Williams is the guy.

With apologies to the Pink Shirt boys and Bill Casey, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is Atlantic Canada’s newsmaker of the year.

On the Rock, he’s a rock star – a celebrity who, like Madonna or Sting or Pele, is known by a single name.

Sure, "Danny" is two parts bully, three parts bombast, and all parts brilliant. And he’s hard to figure out from day to day.

But he’s proved that he knows not only how to fight, but how to win.

That’s the big change.

Former premier Brian Peckford fought Ottawa for control of offshore resources – and lost in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Former premier Brian Tobin fought foreign fleets to protect fish stocks, but it just didn’t work out.

Former premier Joey Smallwood thought he was fighting for a fair share of revenues from the Churchill Falls power project. And 40 years later, Quebec is still making off with a lion’s share of the revenues.

Like these predecessors, Danny Williams took on formidable enemies – first Ottawa, and then powerful international oil companies.

His critics (including this one) said that he too was sure to lose.

And that he couldn’t have been serious when he stormed away from talks with Chevron Canada Resources over development of the Hebron oil field.

After all, Chevron could spend its billions elsewhere.

And the big multinational would never come back as long as Williams drew breath in the premier’s office in St. John’s.

As for the province taking an ownership position in the Hebron project, that would simply never happen.

Except it did.

In August, Chevron let the province buy a small equity position in the offshore oil project.
And the precedent was set.

Last week, the province again did the thing that couldn’t be done.

It purchased a share of another offshore oil project, taking a smallish equity position in the new phase of PetroCanada’s White Rose development.

Was this a surprise?

Two years ago, it would have been a shock. The oil industry – just like Margaret Thatcher – was "not for turning."

Then Danny stripped the oil execs of their camouflage gear.

Who says the ExxonMobils of the world won’t work with government partners?

Gee, they already do so in Libya and Saudi Arabia and quiet, staid, democratic Norway.

Danny figured this out, but that’s only half the point.

What’s remarkable about the Williams story is not the transformation – much less the conquest – of big oil.

Instead, it is the sea change in Newfoundland itself.

Pre-Danny, this was the place that could always whine but never win.

"Outside" interests – "fish lords" from England, power utilities from Quebec, mining companies from Ontario – always managed to strip the province of its resources and its dignity.

That’s the myth, anyway – the founding faith of the old fishing colony in the northwest Atlantic.
With the "win" over Hebron, and the earlier victory over Ottawa on the issue of offshore resource revenues, all that has changed.

So Danny’s the man.

I’d say he walks on water, but that’s a foolish notion to anyone born and raised in a seafaring – and sea-fearing – place.

But when real estate prices soared in St. John’s in the last quarter of this year, the Toronto newspapers did call it the "Danny Williams effect."

For most voters, Williams has entered a blessed "zone" – a sweet spot in which all that’s good attaches itself to him and all that’s bad gets blamed on someone else.

This gives him plenty of room to change things.

And he’s done so in telling ways.

For instance, Williams has lowered tuition fees in a drive to educate more people.

This is a better long-term strategy for building an economic and population base than putting up a donair advertisement in downtown Toronto. (Are you listening, Rodney?)

Williams has even made sense of the fishing industry, by allowing some assets to be sold to foreign or out-of-province companies.

This was done – by the way – in the face of four centuries of an entrenched fishing culture. In short, it’s not small stuff.

And I’m left to conclude that Danny – for all his blarney and spoiled-kid tantrums – is the rarest of God’s creatures, the right leader for his time and place.

With the new year upon us it pays to remember that no matter how we are perceived or how bad things may seem, things can turn on a dime.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Back Room Politics - A Study in Confusion

Boy would I love to be a fly on the wall inside Stephen Harper’s, or for that matter Danny Williams’, office these days. Then again in order to know what's really going on it's more likley I'd have to get inside the heads of these two men. Now that's a scary thought. I guess there'll be no sleep for me tonight.

Seriously, anyone watching recent events in Newfoundland and Labrador knows there has to be something going on behind the scenes, very subtly of course, but something is happening.

It's almost like the feeling you get when you're watching a thriller and you know something shocking is about to happen but you can't quite put your finger on it.

Premier Williams met with Stephen Harper a few weeks ago and came out of that meeting saying he had offered the PM a number of options that would help offset the $10 or $11 billion dollar shortfall left outstanding by the Federal government’s broken promises on resource revenues and unilateral changes to the Atlantic Accord.

The thing is, Williams refused to say publicly what those options were except to say the list was a long one. One that immediately comes to mind is the Lower Churchill. Could one of those items have something to do with the development of that hydro mega-project?

Of course for years the big thorn in everyone’s side in Newfoundland and Labrador has been the billions Quebec rakes in from Upper Churchill power while the province barely makes enough to keep the turbines spinning. The Lower Churchill is seen as a chance to actually make some money from the huge river’s resources but once again Quebec stands in the way.

It makes one wonder if, since the Harper/Williams meeting took place, some sort of agreement on the Lower Churchill is in the works and if so, what could it be? Why do I say this?

Well, a few days ago the chairman of the board for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Dean McDonald, resigned suddenly. His resignation took effect immediately and he did not make any public comments on the move.

When you consider that McDonald did the same thing once before, when a former provincial government was about to sign a deal with Quebec that fell far short of providing the province with the value it deserves from the resource, the reason for the chills running down my spine become clearer perhaps.

There’s certainly room for some speculation on what all of this means. But wait, there’s more.

Mere days after the Harper/Williams "summit" Federal Minister Loyola Hearn showed up in the province on another vote buying excursion, doling out money like a drunken sailor.

For a minute or two it almost seemed as if the ice had been broken between the two levels of government and Ottawa was trying to make some sort of amends for the dirty trick they pulled on equalization. But just as everyone started thinking a truce was in place Hearn went before the microphones to tell the media that Santa (Stephen Harper) is more likely to give a child (Danny Williams) what he wants for Christmas if the child is a “good boy” and not a “bad one”.

So much for the cease fire, or is it?

Of course Hearn’s comments touched off the ire of the Premier and many voters in the province but somehow the response to Hearn's condescension seems almost muted and certainly not up to the standard of anger we’ve come to expect from Danny boy.

Of course it could be that the Christmas spirit is flowing through Danny’s veins these days but I doubt it.

Coming out of their meeting Williams gave the PM until Christmas to respond to his demands but just this week things changed once again when Harper and Williams spoke on the phone and Williams stretched that deadline to January 11, when the First Ministers are slated to meet and discuss the economy. If nothing is done, Williams claims, the ABC (Anyone but Conservative) campaign will be back on in Newfoundland and Labrador.

So why did these two adversaries talk on the phone this week after meeting recently and after not speaking at all for over a year?

They spoke because Stephen Harper decided to name John Crosby, a former federal Cabinet Minister (under Brian Mulroney), as the new Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The question then becomes, why did John Crosby, who has been retired from politics for quite some time, warrant such a plum post?

Could it be because Skipper John, one of the architects of the Atlantic Accord and a past federal Finance Minister, who is no fan of Williams’ approach to the whole equalization affair, has never the less been very outspoken in his support of the Province’s position on the matter?

Crosby has said on several occasions that he believes the federal government is wrong in this and, knowing John’s outspoken personality, it’s likely he’s been talking the same talk inside the Conservative party, perhaps fostering descent and divisions among its members.

Along with the post of Lieutenant Governor comes the obligation to not comment on political matters or to take sides in any disputes. So perhaps this is Harper’s way of making John shut his big trap and anyone who knows anything about John Crosby knows the only hope you have of shutting him up is to put him in a position where he simply can’t talk. The Lieutenant Governor’s position works as well as any gag and it’s less likely to leave unsightly gag blemishes on the skin.

Then again there’s always the Schreiber affair and the fact that Crosby is on the list of potential witnesses who may be called to testify. Perhaps the PM’s offer of a plum position at the trough has nothing to do with the equalization debate and more to do with getting on John’s good side before he sits in front of the ethics committee to discuss exactly what he knows about Mr. Harper’s good friend and advisor Brian Mulroney.

Oh to be a fly on the wall…

In politics they say a week is a lifetime. With the way things are going now I wouldn't be surprised if before the new year is over we see:

1) A deal on the Lower Churchill that sees Quebec pickup another bundle of cash for decades to come at the expense of the owners of the resource.

2) Stephen Harper gaining a majority government (thanks in some small way to an end, or at least half hearted, ABC campaign in Atlantic Canada.

3) Danny Williams planning his exit strategy from provincial politics and positioned inside the Conservative party for a future run at federal politics

4) John Crosby blowing an artery in his brain after biting down too hard on his tongue for a few months.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NL First Now an Official Federal Party

The following press release was issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party today. Congrats to all. It's nice to see the guys in the party standing up and giving voters a real alternative to a nationally controlled party.

News Release - NL First Party - 2007-12-19

New Newfoundland & Labrador Federal Party Formed

St. John's - Elections Canada has recently confirmed that the Newfoundlandand Labrador First Party, led by former PC Cabinet Minster Tom Hickey, is eligible to be registered as a Federal Party.

With the completion of some ongoing paperwork, and the nomination of one or more candidates for the impending federal election, the party will meet all the criteria for full registration.

The NL First Party (http://www.nlfirst.ca/) will be fielding a full slate for the next federal election.

The party is pleased to welcome applications from anyone who would like to represent Newfoundland and Labrador interests first in Canada's next Parliament.

Interested persons can contact the party by e-mail at info.nlf.ca or call Tom @ 709-726-5327.

Tom is more than willing to discuss with any perspective candidate or voter the party's commitment to presenting a united front to the Federal Government and the people of Canada on issues of extreme importance to Newfoundland and Labrador's future.

Only the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party can obtain a Fair Deal from Ottawa. We cannot count on any of the old line federal parties.

In the next federal election voters can now cast their vote for Newfoundlandand and Labrador First rather than "Anybody But Conservative".

- 30 -

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dean McDonald Left the Wind Farm - Danny, Danny Oh!

Today Dean McDonald resigned as Chairman of the Board for Newfoundland and Labador Hydro, effective immediately.

According to Premier Danny Williams, McDonald will be replaced by former MHA and cabinet minister John Ottenheimer. The question on everyone's mind after the announcement is why McDonald suddenly decided to vacate his post.

Premier Williams is saying the decision was made for personal reasons. Apparently since selling Persona Communications (after it received a $10 million dollar government contract without public tender), McDonald has been busy with his capital venture company and has not been able to give NL Hydro the attention it deserves at this critical time. A time when Lower Churchill development plans are being drawn up, when NL Hydro is entering the oil and gas market space and as new wind power developments are coming on stream.

There has been no comment publicly from McDonald today.

This is the second time McDonald has resigned from the same position. The first time was under the former Liberal provincial government of Roger Grimes. McDonald resigned at that time saying he could not in good concience allow the Grimes government to sign a deal to develop the Lower Churchill power project without going public. According to McDonald it was a deal that would export power through Quebec at what he believed were less than optimal returns for the province.

This begs the question, with McDonald's immediate resignation, with a new plan for Lower Churchill development on the drawing board and with with the current silence of Mr. McDonald, is the province once again about to sell out the people by selling off the Lower Churchill development Quebec?

Since the Lower Churchill project moved back to the front burner the Williams government has claimed to be seriously considering going the Atlantic route rather than wheeling power through Quebec. Today's events have raised speculation that a decision has already been made to export the power rather than use to to attract local industry and even on how that power will leave the province.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mulroney - Schreiber: With Friends Like This Who Needs Enemas

The headline might make some think of the mess Schreiber is bringing to light and whether or not he was a friend to Mulroney or a curse. Don`t jump to conclusions. From all the testimony so far in Ottawa and especially after today the story is just the opposite.

Personal Opinion Alert: Brian Mulroney is an ASSHOLE!!!

Yes, Schreiber may be a sleazy character who brokerd undercover deals in Ottawa.

Yes, Schreiber may have been the middle man for millions as they passed from multi-national companies to political figures.

Yes, Schreiber may be doing whatever he can to aviod extridition.

That said, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, after saying he only knew Schreiber in the most limited sense, after he denied taking money from Schreiber and taking 2.1 million from Canadian tax payers, after spending a lot of time with Mr. Schreiber as everyone now kows was a close friend, confidant and business aquaintance, Mulroney has shown his true character by saying in his testimony today that one of the worst things that ever happened to him was being introduced to Mr. Shreiber.

This coming from a man who had Mr. Schreiber to his home. From a man who was more than happy to accept Schreiber`s middle man support when it came to stabbing Joe Clark in the back and taking control of the PC party (with the help of Frank Moores`money laundering) and couldn`t wait to make a cash grab from Mr. Schreiber when he was leaving office.

It`s enough to make a poor little guy like me gag!!!

Schreiber may be a shady figure but Brian Mulroney is below contempt.

With friends like him who needs enemas

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Ice Man Cometh...

With a Bill sitting on Parliament Hill that supposedly clears up the Atlantic Accord mess, Bill Casey still in the news and a deal done over the Atlantic Accord in Nova Scotia, if you can call a verbal agreement with Stephen Harper a deal, it's more than a little interesting that the PM has found a feeble excuse to pay a visit to good old Newfoundland and Labrador this weekend. I would have thought someone with Harper's team of advisors could have thought of something more believable than visiting Fabian Manning and wishing him well on his nomination papers being signed.

Of course a meeting has been scheduled with Danny Williams but that's not the real reason for the visit (wink, wink).

Could it be that Harper is just trying to head off the next wave of ire from the Premier? I mean he couldn't be worried about another round of bad publicity could he? What with the last round, his handling of Afghanistan, Ottawa's obstructionist stand in climate change and a pending inquiry into Brian Mulroney's business dealings and his knowlege (or lack of knowlege) about them, he must be used to dealing with bad press by now.

Maybe not.

It should be an interesting meeting and an even more interesting few days afterward.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

When Political Will and Sound Economics Align

When political will and sound economics fully align in a simbiotic way great things can happen. Let's hope this is one of those rare occassions.

There’s more than one way to skin a seal and it looks like Premier Danny Williams may finally be listening to voices in Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to using lower Churchill power right here at home.

Ever since the Lower Churchill project moved from the back burner to the front there have been a number of proponents, from individuals to advocacy groups like NLDL.org and even yours truly, who have beaten the drum for local use of the power.

While there are those who spent most of their time debating the Quebec vs. Maritime route for exporting the power others loudly wondered why industry couldn’t simply open up shop where the power exists and in doing so help diversify the economy.

It just makes economic sense that if the province sells the power to Quebec, Ontario or whomever, the purchasers will charge their customers more for that power than the users would have to pay if they bought it straight from the source. Enter CVRD.

Recent reports say Danny Williams and a provincial delegation just spent a week in Brazil, the home base of CVRD, and discussed the possibility of building an aluminium smelter in Labrador.

According to a Telegram report, Williams said, "The province is actively seeking requests from various companies to look at the possibility of an aluminium smelter in Labrador, which would utilize the Lower Churchill power when that comes on stream around 2014, 2015,".

Brazil-based CVRD - is one of the largest mining and metal companies worldwide. CVRD became the owner of the Voisey's Bay nickel project when they took control of Inco a year ago. According to Williams the company plans to live up to all of its obligations in the province, including the building of a commercial nickel processing plant in Long Harbour.

Williams said CVRD is not the only player in the running for a possible aluminium smelter. He said discussions are under way with other companies.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is actively pursuing the issue, the premier said.

There’s no doubt some power will have to be exported in the short term, but if the province hopes to see any real benefit from Lower Churchill that benefit will only come from using the power to attract industrial development and manufacturing. Industries in desperate need of clean, low cost and dependable power.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Atlantic Accord Deception is Clear

The following appeard in the Nova Scotia Business Journal and is certainly worth a read heading into next week.

Atlantic Accord deception is clear: Casey

Shunned Nova Scotia MP Bill Casey is using first-hand stories and public tapes in hope of showing that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty lied about the Atlantic Accord. Casey shared stories with The Daily News on Tuesday that he believes prove the Conservative government was trying to mislead Nova Scotians.

Casey says when controversy over the Atlantic Accord first erupted earlier this year following the Conservative budget, he went to Flaherty and asked to know exactly what had been changed from the original accord. "He looked me in the eye and said, 'Not one comma was changed," said Casey. "He said that to me twice. And I was relieved ... but in the end, that's absolutely not true. I think they thought they could pass one by us without anyone noticing."

The MP also describes going to Harper and presenting him with two legal opinions opposing changes to the accord. "He looked at them, and he took his hand and he pushed them away. He said, 'It doesn't matter what they say, I decide what formally exists.'"

Casey also apologized to Nova Scotians yesterday for initially "going in the wrong direction" after the budget. Casey said he believed what Harper and Flaherty told him, which caused him to initially support the Conservative budget. Casey would later vote against the budget and get booted from the Conservative caucus.

Casey was supposed to see a copy of the new equalization deal on Tuesday, he said, but that appointment was delayed until next week. In the meantime, he expressed concerns the government couldn't be trusted to uphold its agreements.

Casey said he has collected a series of public tapes and quotes of Harper and Flaherty taking positions they would later back away from. He cites a February 2005 Harper speech honouring John Hamm, in which he calls the former premier a "great Canadian and dear friend."

"The ultimate victory in this campaign for fairness will be his greatest legacy," Harper said. "Your federal Conservative party was proud to support John's fight for fairness for Nova Scotia ... every single member of our national caucus supported that fight." And then every single member voted to take the accord away, added Casey.

He also presents a 2005 Flaherty quote saying Nova Scotia is entitled to keep all the "terms, conditions and benefits," of the Atlantic Accord. Casey contends this was deceptive, as the Tories changed how equalization was calculated

Ottawa-based group Democracy Watch also scolded Harper for going against an earlier promise. The group claims Harper broke his commitment to "ensure that party nomination and leadership races are conducted in a fair, transparent, and democratic manner."

Democracy Watch cited Harper's fight with Casey's riding association over its selection of Casey as a candidate as an example of refusing to democratize elections. – The Daily News

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Watch Your Back Gerry

Great news today:

Minister Hearn announces federal investments in northern peninsula and Corner Brook area

OTTAWA, Ontario— The Honourable Loyola Hearn announced that the Government of Canada will provide funding to help individuals in the northern peninsula and Corner Brook area gain work experience, explore career options, and find work.

Over $700,000 in funding for projects is provided through three programs.

Under the Employment Assistance Services program:

the Humber Community YMCA in Corner Brook will receive $284,072;
the Emerald Business Employment Corporation in Baie Verte will receive $137,377;
the Green Bay Community Employment Corporation in Springdale will receive $84,307; and
the Supported Employment Deer Lake Extended Regions will receive $53,084.

Through the Job Creation Partnership program:

the Town of Cow Head will receive $22,200;
the Springdale Heritage Society will receive $12,000; and
the Aurora Nordic Ski Club in St. Anthony will receive $11,723.

Through the Self-Employment Assistance program:

the Emerald Business Development Corporation in Baie Verte will receive $84,049; and
the Nortip Development Corporation in Plum Point will receive $49,512 in funding.

Personally,I'm not sure how to take this latest vote buying scheme.

Notice if you will that all the spending is in and around Liberal Gerry Byrne's district. Hmmmm...

Gerry is basically nothing more than a "player" so no love lost there, but never the less, it's interesting to see how much attention the district is getting from the Conservative/Reform/Alliance, PC (CRAP) party.

Things that make you go Hmmmmmm.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On the Next Episode of Soap...

How well did Brian Mulroney actually know Schreiber?

A letter from Mila Mulroney to Schreiber’s Missus tell us the couples knew each other:

A: very well
B: quite well
C: extremely well
D: all of the above

Did Mulroney really take 300K in bribes and then try to cover it up?

Where did the other 19+ million in fees during he Airbus purchase process actually go, does anyone know?

Did the Privy Council Office really not send Schreiber’s letter t to the PMO, did the PMO really not show it to the PM or did Harper actually see the letter from months ago and bury it?

Mulroney is still a major force in the Conservative party and has advised Harper in recent years. How close are Mulroney and Harper and what does Harper really know about the Airbus scandal?

Will there be a public inquiry and if so, which closets will be opened?

Will this latest government scandal provide the fertilizer needed for Stephane Dion to actually grow a personality?

Will Danny Williams start referring to Steve as Brian II?

Why is Jack Layton acting so holier than thou? Is it because his party is so squeaky clean or simply because the NDP has never been in a position to control any more than a few hundred bucks?

Will Peter McKay, eyeing weakness in the PM challenge his leader for the top job or will he content himself with moving to Saudi Arabia with the harem he's aquired over the years?

If the Conservative government is tarnished by this scandal, with the Liberals already ousted after their own, what will voters do in the next election?

Will Starr tell Brick she’s really his long lost Sister or will Brick leave on his annual religious sabbatical first?

For the answers to these questions and many others be sure to tune in to the next episode of “Banana Republic” now in primetime.

Author's Note: My apologies for that last question, but it's damn confusing to have As the World Turns on the T.V. while writing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

First Minister's Photo-Op In the Offing

Canada’s current government has been in office for about two years. Not once in that time has Prime Minister Stephen Harper seen fit to meet with the provincial and territorial leaders at a first minister’s conference. Suddenly with the high Canadian dollar impacting export businesses from east to west Harper has agreed to just such a meeting, but only after several Premiers demanded it. My question is why. Why now, why not earlier and why this particular issue?

It’s not like there weren’t any serious issues or concerns that needed to be discussed before now.

Sometime between now and January the Prime Minister says he will sit down with the first ministers and discuss the impact of the rising dollar. Oddly enough, of all the issues facing the people of Canada, a high dollar is arguably one government can do the least to resolve.

It’s possible to ease corporate tax burdens, lower tariffs or subsidize specific industries, but the value of the dollar is not something political leaders have any real control over. On the other hand, there are a myriad of issues our leaders can and should be addressing but aren’t. These other issues that may not grab headlines or provide the same kind of photo-ops as a soaring loonie but they are issues that hav real solutions. Solutions that would do far more for the Country in the long run than moaning about a high dollar.

Why aren’t the first ministers and the PM trying to resolve the deadlock over an east/west power grid? A grid that would allow provinces to wheel power across the country, without impediment, to areas that desperately need it.

What about the issue of senate reform? Rather than simply talking about abolishing the senate why isn’t the PM spending some time (up front) working with the provinces to find a way of reforming that tired old body and making it do what it was designed to do, provide regional representation to all areas of the Country?

Why, with so many seniors on voting lists across Canada and with more entering their so called “golden years” every day, is nothing being done to help older Canadians live out their lives without having to choose between medications, food and home heat? Millions of older Canadians are doing exactly that. The Old Age Security plan is designed to keep seniors at or below the poverty line and heaven forbid you paid into a pension plan, out of your pocket, because you’ll soon find that your foresight has won you the prize of having your government pension reduced.

There are countless issues that affect all Canadians and that need to be addressed. Issues that the government has far more ability to control and manage than the Canadian dollar. Why have these not warranted the attention of Stephen Harper or the first ministers? Why have they not resulted in a leader’s conference or been addressed at all?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Remembrance Day - NL's Pround Military History Remembered

With Remembrance Day once again upon us, it seems appropriate this weekend to reflect on the exploits of the so called “Fighting Newfoundlanders” and remember those from the Province who fought in conflicts half way around the world.

When many think of the Province's military history they immediately think of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Although Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have fought with the forces of other nations and continue to distinguish themselves today in the Canadian Armed Forces, it is with a special kind of pride that we remember the exploits of that Regiment. Originally formed in 1914.

In WWI the Regiment earned no less than 280 separate decorations, 77 of which were awarded to original members of the “first 500” of which 170 were killed in action. In fact, one in every seven men among the original force received some sort of military honour.

Many people have heard the name of Tommy Ricketts who was given the highest honour possible, the Victoria Cross, however many may not remember some of the other brave men who fought for their homeland under the most dire conditions. The Province has produced many great heroes who are not as well known, but no less deserving of recognition.

Take for example the story of Cyril Gardner, originally from British Harbour. Lieutenant Gardner has the distinction of being the only known allied serviceman to have received the German Iron Cross. The Iron Cross, which was handed out only to the bravest German military personnel, was given to Gardner on the battlefield.

As the story goes, Gardner’s unit was engaged in battle with a German patrol of 70 men. During the night, as hostilities wound down Gardner, who spoke German, took it upon himself to grab his machine gun and head out to the enemy encampment.Sneaking into the enemy camp, the Lieutenant turned his gun on the officers, capturing them unharmed. With their “head” cut off so to speak, the remainder of the troop immediately surrendered. Lieutenant Cyril Gardner had single handedly captured an entire German Patrol.

Upon marching his prisoners back to his own encampment he was met by a British Officer who intended to shoot the unarmed prisoners. As the German soldiers looked on in horror Lieutenant Gardner once again demonstrated his sense of bravery by stepping into the line of fire to protect his prisoners and telling his superior officer that if one German were shot the officer would be the next one to die.

After a moment of hesitation the officer walked away and it was then that the commander of the German patrol, who had many medals on his uniform, stepped up to Gardner and removing the iron cross from his chest, pinned it on Gardner’s, to the applause and cheers of the German soldiers.

For Centuries, even before the formation of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have answered the call whenever it arrived. Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans have been involved in major conflicts around the world since the mid 1600's, including: The Anglo-Dutch Wars – 1652 The War of the Austrian Succession – 1743 The Seven Year War - 1756 The American Revolution - 1775 The Napoleonic Wars – 1796 The War of 1812 World War I – 1914 World War II – 1939. Add to this the number of young men and women who have proven themselves in places like Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia and countless other areas of conflict or peacekeeping around the world, and we can clearly see that the Province has a lot to be proud of.

During this Remembrance Day and throughout the remainder of the Year perhaps we should all take some time to visit a legion hall or local war memorial, to stop and chat with an aging veteran and to offer a little show of thanks for the sacrifice these fine men and women have made to protecting our nation.

Statistics show that every day in this country an average of 80 veterans die. That’s more than at the height of conflict in World War II. It only takes a moment to shake a veteran’s hand or buy one a cold beer in a local bar. It might seem like a small gesture and it is, but even taking a moment to express a little gratitude may just brighten the day of some of our bravest and most deserving citizens.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Government to Assist Unemployed Older Workers

Politicians are the only people I know who can suck and blow at the same time and they’re so good at it they can almost make the public believe they’re accomplishing something while they’re at it. Perhaps I’m being too critical. Let me rephrase that. They can almost make the public believe they’re accomplishing something besides wasting tax dollars or buying votes while they’re at it.

Today the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador announced a joint cost shared agreement that will see over 3 million in tax dollars spent to “help” displaced workers in the province. Sounds good right? So why am I pissed?

Here’s why.

The money isn’t being put into any sort of early retirement package or income supplement for these people. It isn’t being used to diversify the economy in rural areas where many of these workers live. In fact it isn’t being spent in any useful way whatsoever. Instead it’s being pumped into a program that will include, “skills assessment, upgrading, counseling and work experience”. In other words it’s being spent to re-train unemployed individuals aged 55 to 64 so they can find work in a different field.

Come on, in all honesty, couldn’t this money be applied in a much more efficient way than the training of older individuals for jobs that probably aren’t available where they lieve for companies who won’t hire anyone who is a whisper and a banana peel away from either retirement or the big sleep.

Hiring new employees, bringing them up to speed in an organization and helping them become a fully contributing part of a company takes a lot of time, effort and money. Just ask anyone who has a high employee turnover. How many companies are really going to hire someone that close to retirement age who has only just been trained in the skills needed for the job? Not many let me tell you.

According Loyola Hearn in a press release today, “The Government of Canada is committed to creating the best-educated, most-skilled and most flexible work force in the world, and that work force includes older workers."

I don’t disagree that the life experience older workers bring to the table is valuable and that many older people in our province have a lot to contribute, but let’s be realistic. This approach has been tried time and time again and it’s failed just as often. Re-training individuals a few years away from retirement and expecting them to suddenly have job offers piling up is the sort of wasteful spending and convoluted logic that’s cost millions over the years, raised the hopes (and sometimes the ire) of people who are already going through the worst of times, and made a laughing stock of government programs in general.

If the provincial and federal governments really believe the answer to the problem of displaced older workers in rural Newfoundland and Labrador is to throw money at it then at least do something useful with that money and buy them some bread and milk. The money will still be gone but at least the recipients will have a full stomach while they wait for a job offer that’ll never come.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Senate Abolition VS. Senate Reform

This week NDP Leader Jack Layton publicly called for a referendum on abolishing the Canadian Senate. Not surprisingly it’s a move that seems to be getting some support from inside the Conservative government.

Calling the upper chamber "outdated and obsolete”, with “…no place in a modern democracy in the 21st century," Layton put out the call for a referendum on the issue.

Layton’s words have some glimmer of truth in them but fixing the problem by throwing the baby out with the bath water seems a bit extreme to say the least.

For years Canadians have come to accept the fact that the Senate is little more than a vestige of a bygone era. A rubber stamp factory for federal legislation and essentially a golden retirement plan for former MPs and party faithful. But is that any reason to abolish it?

Shouldn’t the question revolve around reforming the chamber and making it work rather than doing away with it completely? It’s not like everything in Ottawa would suddenly function better and the sun would rise earlier in the morning if the Senate didn’t exist. When it comes to government dysfunction there’s more than enough blame to go around.

When Harper was elected a couple of years ago a major plank in his platform was Senate reform, not senate destruction. Many people have called for a triple E senate for years (elected, equal and effective). That’s a far cry from abolition. If full senate reform was put in place not only would the problem of a useless Senate go away but the government itself would more effectively meet the needs of all Canadians, not just those in the Ottawa/Quebec corridor.

From the perspective of smaller provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador a triple E senate might solve some of the problems inherent in finding any kind of a voice in Ottawa. Doing away with it would only serve to further strengthen the position of larger provinces by silencing the smaller ones completely.

Elected: An elected Senate (with set terms) means senators would need to go back to the people of their province or territory for a renewed mandate on a regular basis.

This would ensure that they do their job while in Ottawa (reviewing and providing sober second thought to legislation) rather than simply showing up in the chamber when it suits them, as many do now.

Anyone who has seen the kind of flawed legislation coming out of Ottawa on a regular basis lately would be hard pressed to disagree with the need for sober or any other kind of second thought.

Effective: An effective senate means different things to different people, but for me it represents a senate that is non-partisan. A Senate made up of independent members elected by the people of their province or territory without the benefit or liability of party affiliation.

Such a Senate would take party partisanship out of the equation and allow senators to truly represent their constituents, a situation sorely lacking in the House of Commons.

An effective Senate would also be one that is given the power and mandate to amend or even kill legislation if the need is there to do so.

Equal: An equal senate would provide something missing in Canadian politics today, an equal voice for all of the provinces and territories.

A newly designed senate with 5 or 10 representatives from each province or territory, each with a single vote, would ensure that no one region, regardless of population or number of parliament seats, is capable of hijacking the federal agenda for their own benefit.

No doubt there are those who believe this sort of power in the Senate would hamstring legislation and never allow anything to get done. I refuse to buy that argument. A majority of votes in the senate would be achievable as long as the majority of provincial/territorial representatives are in favor of the legislation. This is a far cry from the current system that allows passage of whatever serves to buy the most votes in the larger provinces.

With so few voices in Ottawa, can the smaller regions afford to give up even the largely ineffective ones they have in the Senate today and leave themselves fully at the mercy of MPs from Ontario, Quebec and Alberta?

No matter what the result of a federal referendum, abolition of the Senate requires a constitutional change and the support of the provinces, something that isn’t likely to happen. We’ve all seen how well the provinces agree on even the smallest of matters, but fear not, a referendum, or even talk of one, is not a wasted effort.

There is a silver lining in all of this even if full abolition is unlikely to ever happen.

With a referendum being discussed, and potentially in the offing, the topic of senate reform has suddenly moved from the back burner to the front burner for many Canadians. This may provide an opportunity to begin the process of airing public concerns and potentially moving from an unelected, unequal and ineffective chamber toward the type of elected, equal and effective one that would be the most beneficial for everyone involved.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Federal Conservatives Out of Touch with Provinces

Are you wondering what the federal government is up to?

Has the actions taken by Ottawa (especially the conservative government) got you thinking they are on your side and on the right track?

Then you need to dig past the headlines.

To say I'm not a big fan of the Globe and Mail is the understatement of the year, but every now and then one of their columnists actually maks a point worth noticing. Although the writer clearly missed the point in reference to Newfoundland and Labrador's premier and his attacks on Ottawa, (he was already well above 70% in the polls prior to the election) what follows, from the Globe's Report on Business, is interesting

It raises points that should be considered when it comes to federal/provincial discussions. The question being, who really needs who the most. The conservatives might also want to reconsider their statement that relations between the two levels of government "have never been better in Canada".

From the Globe and Mail:

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is a master of the headline-grabbing declaration. In the last year, he has told Canadians that Canada's total net debt will be eliminated by 2021; that fiscal balance has been restored; that a planned common securities regulator will enhance regulatory efficiency; and a that corporate income tax rate of 25 per cent by 2012 will be a powerful brand for Canada globally.

The one thing that unites all of these federal claims, aside from the fact that they make short, sweet media hits, is that they won't happen without provincial support. So one would assume that Mr. Flaherty, a former Ontario finance minister, has gone the extra mile to ensure he has buy-in from all his provincial colleagues before presenting his latest plan.

Apparently not.

Spokesmen for a number of provincial finance ministers said this week they hadn't heard a peep from Ottawa before Mr. Flaherty announced his goal of a 25 per cent combined corporate income tax rate. (Ontario's responded with some meaningless twaddle about not wanting to speculate about whether consultations had indeed occurred, but that may have been due to confusion in the new minister's office).

It points to a rather high-handed approach to the very people Mr. Flaherty needs co-operation from if he is to realize the lofty national goals he has set. Running roughshod over the enfeebled opposition parties in Ottawa is all very well. They are, after all, the opposition and would do the same if they had a chance. But the provinces should not be regarded as such if Canada is to work.

Yet if you look at the state of federal-provincial fiscal relations these days, there are lots of signs of acrimony.

Earlier this month, the government of Saskatchewan filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the equalization plan Mr. Flaherty said would restore fiscal balance. Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland has mused about joining in on the equalization suit, but for now is contenting himself with bad-mouthing the prime minister and threatening to campaign against federal Conservative candidates in the next national election.

Monique Jerome-Forget, the Quebec finance minister, blasted Mr. Flaherty for his tactics, which she called aggressive, in pushing a common securities regulator. She suggested he should spend more time on consultations. And just about every provincial finance minister claims that they are sending more money to Ottawa than they are getting back and want the situation addressed. Some of these provincial utterances can be dismissed as political bombast.

A certain amount of federal-provincial jostling is inevitable when it comes to financial matters, especially if a province is headed for an election, as was the case with Newfoundland and is the case with Saskatchewan. Still, Mr. Flaherty must know that if he wants provincial support for his ideas, it's advisable to at least give his counterparts a heads-up beforehand, rather than forcing them to scramble after the fact.

On the matter of corporate income tax, he acknowledged that the provincial part was not his jurisdiction. But then he announced a goal of 25 per cent that he can't deliver on his own.

A cynical observer might conclude that it's the headline that matters and not the actual achievement. The lowest corporate tax rate in the G7 countries (which is what a 15 per cent federal tax and 10 per cent provincial tax would be as long as everyone else stood still) has a definite ring to it. With luck, media reports will feature that figure rather than digging deeper to see if it is realistic.

Look what has happened with the Alberta royalty changes announced last week: news reports repeated the Alberta government's claims (and oil industry gripes) even though royalty experts noted that it was mathematically impossible for the government to meet its announced targets. A less cynical interpretation is that Mr. Flaherty expects to persuade the provinces to go along on grounds that a low corporate tax rate will attract new business and allow existing businesses to flourish.

Setting aside the lack of groundwork done to prepare for this happy eventuality, there is another problem: the provinces may have other plans for their taxpayers' money. Carole Taylor, the B.C. minister of finance, alluded to this in her immediate response to the federal plan, saying she would have to see how it fit with the province's overall economic plan.

Among the challenges that all provinces face are increasing demands from municipalities for more money, the mounting cost of social programs, and aging infrastructure that urgently needs to be repaired or replaced. Any one of these may appear more urgent to a provincial finance minister than going along with Mr. Flaherty's plan to lower corporate income taxes.

In the past, the federal government could use the promise of more money from Ottawa as a sweetener when asking for provincial support on a particular plan. But the Conservative government says it plans to reduce spending in areas of provincial jurisdiction, a move that will also lessen its clout with the provinces.

The upshot of all this is that unless you are a business operating in Alberta, where the provincial corporate tax rate is already 10 per cent, don't plan on paying a combined rate of 25 per cent any time soon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sizing Up The Provincial & Federal Scene

Premier Danny Williams announced his new provincial cabinet this week. There were no major surprises but there were a few smaller ones.

The ouster of two ministers, Jack Byrne and Tom Osborne, from Municipal Affairs and Justice respectively, raised a few eyebrows. While Byrne’s ouster was unexpected, the replacement of Tom Osborne in the Justice portfolio had been rumored for some time.

Osborne’s replacement, Jerome Kennedy is a respected defense lawyer and there is speculation that the former minister may be planning to run for the federal conservatives in the next election, something that would not sit well with the Premier in light of his anti-Harper campaign.

The provincial cabinet grew by two new members flying in the face of Williams promises to shrink cabinet when he took office in the previous election. This move was not overly surprising however in light of the additional provincial revenues at his disposal and after the Premier essentially offered Labrador newcomer, Pattie Pottle, a post during the recent election campaign.

During that campaign there were many indications that Williams might lose all four Labrador ridings. In an effort to shore up support he all but promised the voters that if Ms. Pottle was elected she would receive a cabinet position. After she and two other PC candidates won in the area it was difficult if not impossible for the Premier to walk away from his promise. As a result we come to the biggest highlight of the new provincial cabinet…

…Labrador now has two cabinet ministers around the table, Pottle at Aboriginal Affairs and Hickey in Labrador Affairs. In the past these portfolios were combined and often managed in conjunction with other cabinet duties. Now, both are separate and each has the complete attention of a full time minister, both of whom are from Labrador.

For far too long many people in Labrador have felt forgotten by the provincial government and with good reason. Resource revenues from the region have helped fill provincial coffers for decades yet the area has often had to stand at the back of the line for infrastructure funding and government services.

It remains to be seen if a louder voice in cabinet will actually ease Labrador concerns but it’s certainly a start. Time will tell if the big land will finally receive the same kind of treatment from St. John’s as the province itself has been unsuccessfully seeking from Ottawa for years.

Speaking of Ottawa, on the federal scene Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, announced his fall financial update this week. In reality it was more of a mini-budget but the conservatives aren’t admitting as much.

The “update” will see a further 1% cut in the GST, personal and corporate income tax cuts and a small reduction in EI premiums for business and individuals. The most interesting part of the announcement is that the personal tax cuts are retroactive to January of 2007 meaning that they affect this year’s tax returns and the GST cut takes effect on January 1.

It seems Stephen Harper has made up his mind to force an election in the spring or early summer. Most likely they’ll accomplish this by structuring the March budget in a way that it offers a few more tax breaks they can run on yet includes something that even the Liberals, as desperate as they are to avoid an election, will not be able to sit by and take a pass on.

All the signs are there.

A week ago the Finance Minister was all over the news presenting himself as a champion for consumers after Canadians vented frustration because a high Canadian dollar was not being reflected in prices at the checkout.

The truth is that Flaherty did nothing to change this reality but by spring many prices will be in the process of falling naturally as old inventories work their way through the system and as retailers, hit by low Christmas sales, begin to force prices down. Whether a natural process or not, thanks to Flaherty’s antics, the conservative party is likely hoping for a bump when prices begin to fall in a few months.

In addition, the retroactive tax cuts announced this week will mean that spring is also the time when many taxpayers will receive a bigger tax refund than they would have otherwise. Spring is also the traditional time of year when large numbers of people consider two of the biggest purchases any of us ever make, automobiles and homes. Though the GST cut introduced this week will save the average buyer very little, anyone buying big ticket items will see substantial savings at a very opportune time for the Harper government.

The conservatives appear to be strategically aligning their stars in order to best position themselves for a spring majority election win.

As one opposition MP recently put it recently, “Don’t be fooled and make no mistake, the conservatives claim to be governing but they aren’t. In reality they’ve been campaigning ever since the last election.”

I guess it’s nothing new under the sun for a government to buy votes with the taxpayer’s own money, but the conservatives are clearly more strategic, calculating and subtle about it than governments have been before them.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Halloween from Canada's Official House of Horrors

Halloween is upon us again. This year, if you’re in the neighbourhood, you might want to pay a visit to Canada’s official House of Political Horrors, or as it's sometimes pronounced in the often quaint dialect of Newfoundland and Labrador, the "House of Whores".

Sitting high atop Parliament Hill the House of Horrors is a place where vile acts often disgust even the most hardened among us.
Canada’s Official House of Horrors is a place where, over the years, thousands of strong willed individuals have succumbed to the will of the most horrific of brainwashing entities known only as “the party”. It is not fully understood if this “party” refers to some sort of mind numbing creature or if it’s perhaps a cult like group that despises any independent thought.

Visit the “Red” chamber, where the ghosts of former politicians and patronage appointees roam aimlessly. These spirits are responsible only to their political masters, but don’t fear them, for they are weak and essentially harmless. Just remember, you may have to look closely to spot one as many of the creatures known as "senators" only appear in the chamber on rare occasions.
The red chamber is a place where men and women who once fought valiantly for their people willingly relinquish their credibility, sense of reason and have their very hearts ripped from their still moving bodies.

If your will is strong, and your nerves don’t “give up the ghost”, you might also want to stop by the lower chamber.

This area is known as the “House of Commons” referring to the “commoners” who are rarely allowed inside its cavernous maw, is a place where after endless tortured debate, the hopes, dreams and aspirations of millions of taxpayers die a horrible death or are corrupted to match the will of the hollow spirits that dwell within.

The terrible acts that take place in the two main chambers of the House of Horrors are not for the faint of heart but they are nothing to those acts committed behind the closed doors of this massive stone structure. Whatever you do, do not cast your eyes beyond the most public of areas or you may never be the same again.

In the deepest recesses men and women, who in public appear almost normal, quietly make plans among themselves that the average mortal can only imagine in their worst nightmares. Decisions are made to send men to their deaths in war torn countries. The wanton destruction of entire industries and the livelihoods of thousands are gambled away as if with some unholy deck of cards. It is here that the coldest and most calculating of decisions are made on which of Canada’s people will prosper and which will whither away and die.

As you wander the corridors keep your eyes open for such strange beings as the “back bencher”, the “whip” or the rarely seen but much talked about “usher of the black rod”. At all costs, beware of the ultimate unholy power lurking inside the House, the PM.

Since the beginning there have been many powerful leaders of those who spend their time in Canada’s House of Horrors. The latest all powerful Master is one whose true motives are as yet unknown. He is a spectre who can strike his minions mute by the shear power of his presence, is quick to banish anyone who disputes his omnipotence and relishes preying on the weak.

Canada’s Official House of Horrors is a must see this Halloween but one word of caution, don’t bring your loot bag hoping to receive some special treat. All treats are reserved for those living in the closest proximity to the House and for those who come dressed as some indefinable entity referred to as a “nation within a nation”. All others are the beneficiaries of only the most terrible of tricks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Russian Bombers Challenge Canada's Air Defences

For years the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been calling on the federal government to make the military base at 5 Wing Goose Bay a fully operational and integral part of Canada’s defence.

During the last federal election Stephen Harper promised to station a 650 member rapid response contingent at the base but since taking office there has been little talk of the issue. Now residents of the area are expressing concerns after Russian bombers arrived in the area unexpectedly on several occasions in recent months.

5 Wing Goose Bay was once a key installation in protecting Canada’s sovereignty. Geographically located on the eastern and northern approaches to Canada it is ideally situated for such a mission. Since the end of the cold war the base has largely been used as a training facility and in recent years has been all but forgotten by the Canadian government.

Canada’s Eastern and Northern air defence in the area is now managed from a base at Bagotville Quebec, nearly a thousand kilometres further inland than the 5 Wing base.

Recently Russian planes have made several forays either to the edge or, according to some reports, even inside Canadian airspace without permission. There are also unconfirmed reports that on several occasions the pilots of those planes refused to identify themselves when directed to do so by military personnel.

During the first such incident, in August, Canadian forces CF-18 fighter jets were scrambled from the Quebec base however witnesses say that by the time they arrived in the area the Russian plans had already reached Labrador. Since that time six F18s have been temporarily assigned to 5 Wing in order to respond to any potential infractions by the Russian military.

One of the people strongly in favour of renewing the role of 5 Wing is Liberal Senator George Baker, who said in the past that CF-18s are sometimes scrambled from Quebec and are forced to touch down in Goose Bay to refuel before continuing out over the Atlantic to complete their missions.

In response to the latest incidents Lt. Col. Brian Bowerman, acting wing commander for the squadron, said he believes the Russian bombers have been testing North American air defence response, and although he does not consider their actions hostile the Canadian forces are indeed on alert.

The stationing of 6 CF-18s in Labrador, in response to this move by Russia and the apparent ability of foreign aircraft to reach, or even enter, Canadian airspace, has led to renewed calls on the federal government to live up to its obligation to Canada’s air defence and to the Labrador base. So far there has been no response from either the Prime Minister or the Minister of Defence.

Meanwhile, Dean Clarke, a town councillor in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, said he believes the presence of the CF-18s at the local base proves 5 Wing still has strategic importance. This sentiment is echoed by Newfoundland and Labrador Transportation Minister, John Hickey.

According to Hickey, “Goose Bay is as important to our military, the defence of our country and North America as it was back in the '40s and '50s and this is evidence of that".

"It makes sense to position aircraft here on a permanent basis."

In his recent throne speech Stephen Harper indicated that Arctic sovereignty was a key issue for his government yet the lack of a military response team in Labrador has left some wondering just how sincere the Prime Minister really is on the issue and how secure our borders truly are.

There has been no confirmation of whether or not the Russian bombers might have been carrying any offensive weapons when they approached Canadian airspace.

UPDATE - October 25, 10:30 am:

Canadian military officials are saying today, that dispite claims to the contrary, at no time did the Russian bombers off North America actually enter Canadian airspace.

In addition, a military spokesperson delivered the offical government position that the CF-18 jets now at Goose Bay are stationed there because of renovations underway at the Bagotville base. There is some speculation that this official line has been carefully crafted to avoid what might be considered a major international incident in the area.

Is Williams on a Cross Canada "Good Will Mission"?

The Hill Times is reporting that the national press gallery will be holding their annual dinner this Saturday evening. It should prove to be an intersting time.

Stephane Dion and Jack Layton will be there for the event but as of last report Stephen Harper was not planning to attend and apparently has "encouraged" his cabinet ministers and back benchers to avoid the dinner as well.

Could it be that Mr. Harper is a still afraid of the national media or could his abscence be attributed to avoiding one high profile guest we all know very well, Danny Williams?

It seems Williams has been busy getting his name and face out there in an all out effort to become a household name across Canada. First he appeard on two of Canada's most popular humorous programs, This Hour has 22 Minutes and the Rick Mercer Report, now he plans to rub elbows with reporters and editors from all of Canada's major news services.

According to the report in the Hill Times,

"...the Premier–maybe that should be Emperor?–of Newfoundland and Labrador, Danny Williams (will attend). The evening promises to be anything but dull. Meanwhile, I am told that despite reports that Cabinet ministers and Conservative backbenchers have been "encouraged" by the PMO not to attend, several will be there. So it just might turn out to be a very interesting evening after all."

Indeed it should and who knows, with the Premier planning to go head to head with Stephen Harper during the next federal election, building up a friendly and ougoing image across Canada might be very helpful. Especially since polls show most Canadians still don't trust the PM and find him "Cold", "Distant", "Calculating" and any number of other adjectives anyone might want to heap on the pile.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

23% of NLers No Longer Eligible to Vote in Canada

If a federal election were held tomorrow, would you vote? Don't answer too quickly, you may not even have the right to cast a ballot anymore.

According to Elections Canada, thanks to an amendment to the Elections Act introduced by the Conservative government four months ago, over a million Canadians no longer have the right to vote.

The legislation requires all citizens to present a residential address that includes a street name and number in order to qualify for a ballot. The problem is that many Canadians living in rural areas use postal boxes or receive their mail through general delivery at a postal outlet. Those people, as things now stand, wouldn't qualify to vote if an election were held today.

According to a report issued to Parliament by Elections Canada, nation wide 4.4 per cent of otherwise eligible voters do not have the proper address now required by law.

That percentage is far higher in areas with large rural populations like Saskatchewan, the Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador, where more than 23% eligible voters in the province have been left without a voice.

The Conservative government and opposition parties say they are trying to rectify the problem but don't hold your breath for a quick fix. Remember, these are the same people who passed the faulty legislation in the first place. Though in all fairness an NDP spokesman was quick to point out today that his party had identified the problem from day one but the other parties refused to listen.

This is another in a string of flawed acts by Canada's goverment and a clear example of the lack of foresight and care MPs exhibit on a daily basis.

Legislation passed by the former Liberal government that allows potential terrorists to be held indefinately without trial and without being told the reason for their detention has been found by the Supreme Court to be in conflict with the charter of rights and freedoms. The legislation is now back before the House for amendment and reintroduction. It's expected to pass.

The Conservative Accountability Act, brought in after the Liberal spending scandal and intended to ensure that politicians were accountable to the public, has been amended 75 times since being introduced just over a year ago. It's unclear how many of those amendments were made to fix flaws in the legislation or how many might have been implemented to protect politicians from their own laws.

Now government has actually cut over a million voters from the voting lists and if the government falls before this flawed legislation is corrected and passed by the Commons the only hope those voters will have is if the Chief Electoral Officer is prepared to ensure that the voices of those voters are heard. This can be done by invoking what is known as his "adaptation power to ensure that no Canadian loses their right to vote." Of course it's at the discretion of the Chief Electoral Officer whether to invoke that privlege or not.

If the federal government can't even figure out something as simple as the fact that not everyone has a civic postal address what hope is there that they really understand the what was done to the Atlantic Accord or the complexities of something as complicated as the Atlantic fishery?

At the risk of repeating myself, Vive le Canada once again.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Vive le Free Trade.

Vive le Canada!!!

What a wonderful country we live in. Today we can all see how Canada's wonderful free trade agreement works for everyone except the average consumer and hard working taxpayer.

The Canadian dollar is now worth almost $1.02 American yet:

A Cadillac Escalade in the U.S. goes for about $40,000, in Canada $80,000

Vive le Canada!

A GMC Yukon sells in the U.S. for about $50,000, in Canada $69,600

Vive le Canada!

You can get a Nissan Altima in the U.S. for about $24,430, but in Canada it will cost you $31,182

Vive le Canada!

But I'm sure there must be a bright side somewhere, there always is right?

What about gas prices? Surely Canada, as a major producer of oil and gas, must have better prices at the pumps than they do south of the border.

Sorry, gas prices in the eastern U.S. avg. 2.80 per gallon, in east coast Canada they’re closer to $4.00 per gallon. That's $4.00 Canadian not in American pesos.

Vive le Canada!

Are you into the latest technology? Well you can always buy an iPod Touch in the U.S. for $399, or in Canada for $449.

Vive le Canada!

Like to read? You can now get the latest Harry Potter book for U.S. $35 but in Canada it’ll cost you $45.

Vive le Canada!

Not to worry though. In defence of Canadians from coast to coast to coast the Federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, plans to “speak with manufacturers and retailers” and ask them to try a little harder if they don't mind too much. I'm sure that'll shake them up and the photo op for the Minister should really get his point across.

Vive le Canada!

You’d think Flaherty would have a little more influence, what with free trade being such a feather in the cap of a former conservative government. Isn't there something in that agreement about "Free Trade"?

Can't Ottawa even exert some influence over the Auto sector in Ontario or Bombardier in Quebec. After pumping all those Canadian tax dollars into keeping them afloat for decades can't they at least pressure them to treat Canadian citizens fairly.

Sorry, but no.

Don't even consider going south of the border to buy a car or truck at a rock bottom price. The dealers there are being told not to sell to Canadians. If you decide to give it a try, beware. If you actually manage to find some desperate dealer willing to sell, you might come back with a nice new vehicle but your warranty won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.

Vive le Canada!

With winter coming on maybe you’re interested in a new snowmobile. Well Quebec based Bombardier makes, ships and sells a long line of summer and winter recreational equipment in the U.S. In fact if you want to purchase their Renegade X 800 snowmobile in the U.S. it will run you about $10,000. In Canada expect to pay at least $13,000 to $14,000 for the same machine.

Until the recent rise in the Canadian dollar Bombardier's standard policy was to impose a 7.5 per cent surcharge on sales to Canadian customers in the U.S. The same Canadian consumers/taxpayers who bailed them out countless times.

Just this month Bombardier expanded their policy to charge 7.5 per cent or $1,250 – whichever was higher. Later they raised the rate to $3,000 and now, taking a cue from the highly subsidised Canadian Auto industry, Bombardier is telling U.S. retailers not to sell to Canadians at all.

Vive le Canadian tax bailouts!

Welcome to Canadian free trade folks. You’re on your own.

Vive le Canada!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Loyola Hearn & John Crosbie - A World Apart Politically

Recently former federal fisheries minister, John Crosbie, has, believe it or not, been the voice of reason in the equalization battle between Ottawa and Newfoundland and Labrador. He has asked both parties in the dispute to find a way past the current impasse and resolve the issue. Not bad advice and if anyone is questioning Mr. Crosbie’s motives, an article written by him in this weekend’s Independent should put those questions to rest.

In case you missed it, it’s a great article. Here are a few excerpts:

“Is the future of NL one of prosperity and self-reliance achievable within Canada today or not? Can the present pattern of confrontational federalism be changed and improved upon? Is the Government of Canada going to continue to be the beneficiary of 75-80 cents on every dollar of government royalties and taxation revenues generated by existing oil projects in NL or not?”

“How can we expect to build a long term sustainable and growing economy as predicted by both levels of government during the long negotiations over the Atlantic Accord when the “principal beneficiary” of its only foreseeable non-sustainable natural resource revenue is Canada?”

“We were told that after we became a “have” province, the sharing of benefits with other Canadians was to start. But that sharing of benefits started long before NL became a “have” province because of the unfair application of the equalization program, which has prevented the achievement of the objectives and purpose of the accord.”

“…the economic and fiscal disparities among the 10 provinces and three territories are an ever increasing threat to our political, social and economic survival as a nation. We are all citizens of the same nation. How can our country permit provinces such as NL and Nova Scotia not to receive the benefits from their own depleting resources while most other provinces were given the right to their natural resources by Canada and so prosper as they receive and enjoy the benefits...”

“…With the apparent change to the commitments made by Stephen Harper… the stage is set for the next battle to erupt over the Atlantic Accord. It is 10 years since first oil was produced at Hibernia. How many more decades must pass before a lasting settlement is reached to this bitter and disruptive national unity issue?”

Well said John. I’d also add that the province has a limited number of decades left before the oil is gone. This is why the people of NL are so determined to find a solution to the problem sooner rather than later.

The article by John Crosbie is an informative, interesting one that’s well worth the read if you get the chance.

Also interesting, but quite sad, is the clear difference in attitude between Canada’s former fisheries minister, John Crosbie, and its current one, Loyola Hearn.

While Mr. Crosbie is standing firmly behind his province, in another article in the same edition of the Indy, Loyola Hearn responds to calls for the province to vote against the Conservative’s in the next federal election by saying, “It’s extremely important for our province to be represented around the cabinet table in Ottawa. If not, who’s going to look after us?”

Interesting point Loyola. I mean where would we be on Custodial Management and the Atlantic Accord if you weren't at the cabinet table?

Here’s a news flash for you Loyola, Newfoundland and Labrador can look after itself without keeping you gainfully (or otherwise) employed. We don’t need you or anyone else in Ottawa to “look after us”. All we need, and are fighting for, is to have the federal government treat us fairly and to stop tying our hands behind our backs at every turn.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fledgling Federal Party Steps Into Ottawa - NL Dispute

There has been a new turn of events in the ongoing dispute between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

This week the leader of the fledgling Newfoundland and Labrador First Party, Tom Hickey, informed the media that his party intends to field a full slate of candidates in the province when the writ is dropped for the next federal election. Hickey also indicated that he is hoping Premier Danny Williams will throw his support behind those candidates if the Premier is serious about shutting out the federal Conservatives in the Province.

It’s an interesting idea and clearly some pretty solid planning has gone into this move by the new party. If the Premier is serious about campaigning against the Harper government he might want to consider the offer extended to him by Mr. Hickey.

Ever since the Harper government backed out of its promise on non-renewable resources and unilaterally changed the Atlantic Accord contract, Williams has been telling everyone in the Province to vote ABC “Anybody but Conservative”. The slogan may be catchy but how valid is the ABC campaign? Where does it leave the voters?

The outcome of the recent provincial election proved beyond doubt that the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are firmly behind the Premier in his battle with Ottawa and in the direction his government is taking locally. The overwhelming percentage of the popular vote Williams received speaks volumes about his ability to “encourage” the people to take a stand and to follow his lead. Now a Newfoundland and Labrador centric party is challenging the Premier to step up to the plate and use that popularity to help send 7 independent voices to Ottawa for the first time in the Province's history.

For Liberal, NDP or Green party supporters William's "ABC" campaign does’nt present much of a problem, they can simply continue to support the party of their choice in the next election, but what about anyone who would have traditionally voted Conservative? How many of them will feel comfortable casting a vote for one of the other parties? How many will be willing to do that and how many long time voters will be satisfied to simply stay at home?

What about the average person who is not a traditional conservative supporter but who feels, for whatever reason, that this time around neither of the other options available is a valid one for them? Where should they park their vote?

The NL First party is hoping to fill the void left in the wake of the Premier’s battle with the fed and are asking him to support their efforts.

The party is lead by a former, and well respected, provincial MHA and cabinet minister who represented the PC party for several years. The party itself espouses many of the same ideals and principles as the Williams government does and the party appears eager to take on the task of tackling a federal campaign.

For disenfranchised Conservative voters, or even the common Joe with no party affiliation, the NL First party might be the answer to their current dilemma, and to the Premier's. If Williams hopes to make his anti-Harper campaign a succesful one he may have found a way.

I’m not out to promote the NL First or any other party, but under the present circumstance NL First may indeed present an option in the next federal election if they do indeed field a slate of candidates answerable only to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and can gain the Premier's support.

NL First is saying, as many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians believe, that the seven federal MPs the province traditionally sends to Ottawa have never had a strong voice. This they say is because those MPs are part of a large national party answerable to the majority of voters in just about every other province except their own. In other words, national parties, no matter the stripe, will respond to the wishes of the majority in vote rich provinces like Ontario and Quebec, even if those wishes are in direct opposition to the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s hard to deny the truth in that.

The NL First party has positioned itself, not as a Bloc style separatist movement, but as an independent voice for their Province.

Mr. Hickey recently noted that his party has no intention of being obstructionist if elected. They intend to support or fight each piece of federal legislation on its own merits but always with an eye to how it might harm or benefit Newfoundland and Labrador.

Canada has reached a point in its history where minority governments are likely the norm rather than the exception. With the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Bloc and Green parties all vying for voter support, and with the latter two parties becoming increasingly popular all the time, the odds of winning a majority government are not what they once were.

The thinking behind hte NL First party is that by electing candidates who are not answerable to anyone outside the province, especially at a time when minority governments are likely, Newfoundland and Labrador will have a better chance of getting its message out, its needs met and perhaps, in the case of a close minority, even holding the balance of power when it comes to voting on key pieces of legislation.

As far as Premier Williams is concerned, he might want to give the NL First a good long look. This new party could provide him with the solution he needs if he hopes to address the concerns of anyone looking for a place to park their vote.

It’s often difficult for voters to stand behind a negative election campaign. If Williams chooses to do so, supporting the NL First party would allow the him to seamlessly and easily move from a negative, “Anybody but…” campaign to a much more positive and constructive one that supports a locally focused party and candidates.

Will Williams get onboard? Only time will tell, but it’s definitely a new twist in the battle between Williams and Harper and one well worth keeping an eye on.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Democracy or Dictatorship - Canada's "New" Government

One of the most important actions of any successful dictatorship is to control the masses.

The easiest and best way to accomplish that task is to control the news media.

By controlling what the public hears and sees, always being seen in the best possible light dictators around the world protect their place of power and limit any potential for uprising or dissent.

Why did Saddam Hussein plaster giant pictures of himself around Iraq?

Why did Hitler hold mass public cult like rallies with hundreds of thousands in attendance?

Why did the former Soviet Union allow only the state run news service to exist for decades and why are journalists being murdered in Russia even today?

Clearly the reason is to control the public and retain power.

Unfortunately, for anyone with dictatorial aspirations in a Country like Canada, the state can’t just shoot dissident reporters, take over commercial media outlets (with the exception of the CBC) or arrest people for speaking out against them. But perhaps there is no need for such an extreme approach when a more subtle one can work just as well.

Perhaps, for example, if you were leading the Canadian government you could simply refuse to talk to certain “unfriendly” reporters and, by using them as an example, force the rest to fall in line.

Of course if that tactic is not fully accomplishing the task and government spin is still not getting enough air time or stories that show your party in a bad light just won’t go away, it might be time to move to plan B.

Today Stephen Harper is already working on plan B and in doing so is removing one more road block on the road to gagging the press, blindfolding the masses and manipulating voters.

According to recent reports Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been working on a secret project for over a year that would see a $2-million government controlled media centre built in Ontario.

According to the Toronto Star, documents obtained through the Access to Information Act prove the PM is working on a plan, code-named the Shoe Store Project, that would see government build a new media centre. The centre would provide his government with easier control of the media and of the messages the public get to hear from Ottawa.

The documents show that this new centre would replace the 47-year-old National Press Theatre, a venue where government news conferences are moderated by members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association, a group of newspapers, broadcasters and other media outlets. The new government controlled media centre would instead be managed and moderated by hand picked individuals answerable only to government and not the press gallery.

One document obtained by the Star shows that the media centre is part of efforts by the government to "put in place robust physical and information security measures to protect the prime minister and cabinet."

The preceding quote may not appear very ominous but it certainly raises a lot of questions and concerns.

If the physical security of the PM is what’s in question here then perhaps a new press venue is indeed in order, but why would a simple change of venue require the government, rather than media itself, to control and moderate press conferences and events?

What exactly does “information security” mean anyway?

Is the PM looking for physical protection in an age of terrorists and assassins or is he actually seeking protection from the press, the public and the truth?

“The Shoe Store Project” calls for complete government control over which journalists are allowed to attend news conferences and which are not. In other words, those who don’t play along or are seen as being perhaps “troublesome” could, and probably would, be barred. They would be denied the ability to ask questions that might not suit the government agenda but might truly inform the public.

The “project” would give the Harper government the ability to do its own filming at all media events, and to provide government approved footage to journalists, instead of allowing those journalists to film the events themselves. I’d love to see the design for the new building because I’m willing to bet the editing room will be nothing less than state of the art.

Does this plan make anyone else uncomfortable?

Not only is the Harper government planning to take full control over which reporters can or cannot ask him and his ministers questions but he is also making sure he has full control of the video and sound bytes the public are able to see on the evening news. I hope this bothers everyone because it sure as hell gives me a cold chill.

It doesn't always take a political upheaval to turn a democracy into a dictatorship, sometimes all that's required are a series of small baby steps.

In Canada today Big Brother is already deciding who can or cannot travel by air and this is being done without even informing denied individuals of why they are on government’s no-fly lists.

According to recent news reports certain Jewish citizens, and perhaps those of other faiths as well, have begun mysteriously appearing on mailing lists compiled by the PMO, even though those individuals have no idea how the Prime Minister’s Office knows about their religious affiliations.

Canadian citizens have had misinformation about their actions and character handed over to foreign officials without their knowledge. In at least one well publicized case an individual was deported while traveling in the U.S. and tortured for over a year in a foreign country because of government misinformation passed to U.S. authorities.

Now the PM, who has always controlled which reporters he will or will not take questions from, has put the entire country on a very slippery slope. A slope that allows government to have far more control over mainstream news media than at any time in the past and gives him the ability to control what the public is made aware of in print, television and other media.

Welcome to the other side of looking glass people. For those who have long wondered who Big Brother really is, wonder no longer, he lives at 24 Sussex Drive.